Transport for Wales (TfW) has recently lost a case involving Japanese knotweed and it had to pay a property owner nearly £10,000. The court found that TfW was responsible for the land upon which the Japanese knotweed had grown and further that not all of the required treatment had been carried out. TfW disputes this final point but has stated that it will not appeal the judgment.
One of the problems with Japanese knotweed is that it is invasive and requires active treatment. It usually takes at least three years to treat Japanese knotweed. Knotweed rhizomes (roots) can remain dormant in the soil for many years and will regrow if disturbed or if the soil is relocated. What homeowners must remember is that Japanese knotweed is not the only problematic species of knotweed in the UK – it is just the most common of four invasive knotweed plant species in the UK. These are:
- Japanese knotweed.
- Dwarf knotweed.
- Giant knotweed.
- Bohemian (hybrid) knotweed.
When a property is purchased, the conveyancer acting for the buyer will invariably advise their client to have a survey of the property carried out. Some surveys specifically exclude identifying Japanese knotweed from the scope of the survey. However, if there is physical damage to the property, this should be picked up by the survey.
A seller will supply a Property Information Form to the buyer as part of the conveyancing process and this form specifically asks the seller to disclose whether or not they are aware of Japanese knotweed on the property. Of course, a seller may not be aware – so a buyer may wish to consider having a specialist survey carried out. This is particularly relevant if the property is adjacent to a railway. Knotweed can grow in most soil conditions found in the UK along rivers and streams and in man-made habitats, such as:
- waste ground
- railway embankments and cuttings
- spoil tips that are made up of waste material from mining or quarrying.
The conveyancer acting for the buyer will carefully inspect the plan of the property that their client is buying to see if the property appears to be adjacent to any of the above areas. But the conveyancer will not visit their client's property so a buyer should carefully inspect the property that they are buying – including the garden areas and should report any suspicions to their conveyancer. Due diligence at the time of purchase could save thousands of pounds and years of stress.
To discuss this or any other property matter, contact us.